Egypt is a conundrum for President Obama. Just a little over two years ago, Egypt held a democratic election. The turnout was impressive. Morsi barely won the majority but he was a democratically elected leader. Two years later, the military is in control and in the process of selecting a new leader until more elections can be held.
While this appears to be a setback, Egypt has in fact learned a very important lesson in democracy. Be careful who you choose to lead the country. It is a lesson that America has to sometimes relearn, even today.
Looking back, Morsi could be best described as a wannabe dictator. He tried to wield the power given to him to seize more power. There is ample evidence of this. Frankly, it wasn’t the most subtle attempt. But in his attempt to grab more power for himself, he broke the rules and that is what ultimately cost him.
It is here where President Obama somewhat failed. Granted, his influence in this part of the country was severely limited. So, any influence was in terms of monetary value. But supporting Morsi put President Obama in a very precarious position. The Muslim Brotherhood isn’t exactly the most tolerant group of individuals. By throwing his support in that direction, he was essentially supporting a type of Government that would have zero tolerance for anybody even though the Morsi Government was democratically elected.
But what spoke the loudest that Morsi’s reign was ultimately doomed to failure was messing with the tourist trade. Egypt’s primary source of trade is the tourists who flock to see the pyramids and rich Egyptian artifacts. Tourists don’t travel to countries with such unstable leadership. If there is one thing in Egypt that you do not mess with, it is the tourist trade.
So, now President Obama is treading an even thinner line with the overthrow by the Egyptian military. This is what could be considered a blow to democracy and a warning to all leaders that step into that spot. However, it could also be considered a step toward a better democratic state because a wannabe dictator is now out of office along with a group who wanted to impose their own very strict rules on everyone in the country. There is a type of wait and see with this — to see how well a new Egyptian leader can tread the line between power and ruling the country.
But President Obama is making a serious misstep that is certainly not endearing him to anyone in Egypt. He is calling for including the Muslim Brotherhood. This probably isn’t the best strategy to use. Yes, a democratic government is inclusive of all people. But with the severe unrest and the mood of the Egyptian people, it is something they are not in the mood to hear. Frankly, the Egyptian’s military isn’t in the mood to hear it either. So, the majority of this speech is falling on completely deaf ears.
At this point, President Obama’s best move is probably silence on the subject. It isn’t a strategy used by many Presidents but I think this is the exception to the rule. He really needs to take a step back from this one and give Egypt the time it needs to cool down both politically and socially. His influence is essentially nonexistent. Whatever speech he makes is going to make someone mad and make them feel like America is interfering in their country. In fact, his call to work with the Muslim Brotherhood has gone over like a ton of bricks.
There is no right answer for President Obama on Egypt. In such a situation, the only thing he can really do is stay completely neutral. This truly the only way he can stay out of trouble. This means not making speeches about what the military should do. Instead, he probably shouldn’t be making any speeches at all other than a feel good meaningless fluff piece. It is really the only way that President Obama might regain some of the credibility that he has lost in that region.